KitchenTown champions innovation in all its forms so we can drive positive change in our food system from the ground up.
We play a critical role in the development, commercialization, and launch of impact driven and transformational food products.
We are actively building a global community of food entrepreneurs and innovators to support each other and create a new sustainable food system.
Growing a food company is not like growing any other kind of company. The food space is filled with variables—from refrigerated distribution needs to seasonal ingredients to packaging ideas that no machine can do (yet)—and being in service of those emerging companies means we have to listen deeply, stay adaptable, and hit the ground running when our founders do. We’re a house of exhilarating, organized chaos. But that’s the energy of creating something new: it’s scrappy and inspired.
We bring structure and support to that chaos and help our founders harness and direct their energy towards improving our food system. We provide infrastructure and expert guidance, and the right tools at the right times. We tap our vast network of mentors and industry veterans to help guide the next generation of entrepreneurs, and give them space to guide each other too. At the end of the day, founders understand founders better than anyone, and leaning on each other is how some of them grow the most.
So that’s what we do. We’ll help you ideate, create, and grow your company in the smartest way possible. And if there’s anything we don’t know or don’t have already, we’ll be the ones to find it for you. Every company that comes through KitchenTown enriches our community with the experience and knowledge that future founders can use. The world is changing quickly, and we’re here to help you feed it.
Founder & CEO
Rusty is a lifelong entrepreneur. With an extensive background in building companies, he understands the variables involved in startups. In 2014, he founded KitchenTown to help food entrepreneurs ideate, create and grow their business in the smartest way possible. He advocates for founders, cultivates relationships, and fosters partnerships that strengthen and inspire innovation for the next generation of food startups. Feed him kale, croissants, or crickets. He’s game.
Director of Operations
Melanie is an operations specialist with a background in food science. Her experience spans manufacturing, food safety & quality, and product commercialization. She helps early stage food startups tackle day-to-day challenges while keeping the KitchenTown facility running smoothly. She is passionate about all things related to food and enjoys traveling around the world to sample sea urchins.
Research & Partnerships Manager
Grace oversees the Brand Partnerships program at KitchenTown, cultivating meaningful connections and strategic partnerships for food startups. She has an extensive background in academic and professional research while also being passionate about creating sustainable and equitable food systems. Grace has helped spearhead KitchenTown’s effort to reduce food waste and become a green business. Her favorite food is bread.
Maricruz is a jane of all trades. She has supported many different functions of a food business including production, product inventory control, customer service, and quality assurance. She owns all administrative duties in the office and feeds people delicious food at all hours of the day.
Marketing & Communications Manager
Jenna is a marketing designer and visual storyteller with international experience on organic farms, fair-trade clothing factories, and food co-ops. Her lens has been shaped by the transformative power of good food and its ability to build and heal communities. When she’s not styling food, interviewing makers, and posting to social, you can find her in the kitchen or on the dance floor.
Director of Product Innovation
Nitika is an accomplished food scientist who has worked across a variety of categories such as frozen, granola bars, high protein beverages, juices, baby food, and more. She brings a wealth of experience to the team with companies like Plum Organics and Bolthouse Farms under her belt. She loves anything with spice and will add chili to everything she eats.
Spencer loves feeding people and making them happy with food. He has a culinary background in fine dining with French, Italian, and new-American influences. He creates the KitchenTown menu with the makers in mind, drawing inspiration from their products and incorporating fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients into our classic, California menu. At home, you’ll find him making anything Italian, especially pasta.
Maria is our resident den mama. She takes care of the café staff, customers, churns out stellar coffee, while managing our retail store. She has a strong background in hospitality and loves interacting with people. She enjoys getting to know the KitchenTown makers, their products, and watching them grow. Her favorite food is posolé, made from scratch.
Danny is an experienced facilities manager with technical expertise in sanitation. He has worked across a variety of industries, can fix anything, and is a passionate long-distance cycling enthusiast.
Research InternMary supports the Brand Partnerships program by researching new startups and keeping up with market trends. She is a student at UNC Chapel Hill where she is working towards a degree in food studies, public policy, and entrepreneurship. She has experience working at the intersections of these academic paths in both the food advocacy and food entrepreneurship space. She loves discovering innovative food products, especially ones that are contributing towards a more sustainable future.